The development and certification of airborne forward-looking wind shear detection systems has required a hazard definition stated in terms of sensor observable wind field characteristics. This paper outlines the definition of the F-factor wind shear hazard index and an average F-factor quantity, calculated over a specified averaging interval, which may be used to judge an aircraft's potential performance loss due to a given wind shear field. A technique for estimating airplane energy changes during a wind shear encounter is presented and used to determine the wind shear intensity, as a function of the averaging interval, that presents significant hazard to transport category airplanes. The wind shear hazard levels are compared to averaged F-factor values at various averaging intervals for four actual wind shear encounters. Results indicate that averaging intervals of about one kilometer could be used in a simple method to discern hazardous shears.